It’s my birthday weekend and I’ll be 32. It feels random and anti-climactic. When I was young I had a vision for my life based on age milestones. I pictured myself at 23 with a diamond on my finger, picking out flowers in various shades of pink. I pictured myself in an office at 25 in a black suit with a sleek blonde bob. I pictured myself at 28 dressing my children in coordinating outfits for family pictures.
The other day Time Hop reminded me of a post I wrote 11 years ago. It was back when you were forced to refer to yourself in the third person. It said:
Emily: wonders if someday her entire lifetime will be documented on Facebook.
I went back and looked at my oldest Profile picture. (I wisely deleted all the ones from my college days.)
Then I looked at my most recent.
Lest you think I’m about to discuss the smooth sailing of my life and marriage…I’m not. This is actually kind of a long and rambling post so feel free to go. One of the things I thought a lot about this year is how much better the world would be if people were just more real when we talk to each other about our problems. If you’re my friend and I say, “Hey! How are things?” and you’re genuinely having a bad day, please don’t feel you have to say to me, “Ugh, craaaazy busy with the kids activities and totally stressing over planning this vacay to Hilton Head!”
Meanwhile I’m over here like “How am I? I’m great too! Just upped my ADD meds, hubby and I got in like three fights this week over my birthday plans, both my kids had the flu so multiple sheets are covered in vomit and my washing machine broke yesterday! Probably pickled my liver with Pinot Noir this week!” *Chases Xanax with Route 44 Diet Dr. Pepper and quietly backs out of school parking lot so I can eat Sonic mozzarella sticks alone in my car at 10 am.
My point is this: we don’t have to make every little annoyance sound stressful just so we can avoid talking about what’s really going on and seem like we’re being relatable. Further, if you want to confide in me that you’re in a nasty text fight with your sister over a big family issue and it’s consuming your entire day, I’m not going to gasp and assume your life is in shambles. We’ve all been there. Life should be a shared experience.
Somehow I am actually living the life I mapped out for myself when I was young, and I am thankful – passionately, desperately grateful for my family and our home and our life – but there have been chapters that I did not expect. I didn’t know 2 of my cousins would lose their lives before they turned 21. I didn’t know friends would suffer traumatic losses of their spouses and children and how sad I would feel for them for months on end. I didn’t know I’d develop an anxiety disorder that at times made me afraid to be alone or leave the house. I knew my husband would be extremely successful, but I didn’t realize that meant he would need to think about work every weekend and every holiday and be busy for stretches of time on every family vacation.
People overuse the word amazing. And by people, I mean me. As it turns out, election years and birthdays are always a good time for reflection, so that’s what I’m doing in preparation for my 32nd birthday.
Some Amazing Things:
I was born to a middle-class white family in America to two loving, well-educated, open-minded parents. So right off the bat, that eliminates a lot of problems that people in other circumstances have to think about everyday. That was made clear to me more this year than ever before. I’m thankful to my amazing parents for always appreciating other cultures and redirecting me in my moments of ignorance or apathy growing up. (I’m also super thankful to my mom for just having that face, because GAH she’s gorgeous.)
2. Unlike some mommies, I get to raise my daughters in the USA where they will read and write and go to college and have basic human rights and not have to take sh*t from anyone (except me.)
Savvy and Avery: Future-Whatever-The-Hell-They-Wants
3. One time I randomly entered a pageant and they gave me a sash and crown and it led to a whole new world with a second family of people I cherish and opportunities that fulfill and inspire me.
4. My children and husband are healthy. That, as I have learned, is truly an amazing blessing that can all turn on a dime.
5. I get to write down my super weird, sometimes creepy thoughts, feelings and general shenanigans and publish them on the internet where like-minded people reach out to me and tell me their own stories that give me hope that we are all more alike than different.
6. I thought about trying to come up with 32 but numbers 6 through 32 are basically just desserts I’ve eaten, Joe Biden memes, episodes of Scandal, and times I was randomly on TV.
If you’re reading this, you’re part of my 32 year journey and I thank you. I know you’re stressing over what to get me for my birthday, so let it be this: please give yourself a break and confide in someone that your life isn’t perfect. And then feel proud about it and thankful for the amazing things you’ve been granted that you don’t take for granted. Then maybe treat yourself to Sonic.
A few things I’ve pinned lately: